Cancer, along with conditions like dementia and heart disease, stands as one of the leading causes of death in the UK. Cancer encompasses over 200 types that can affect various parts of the body. Nonetheless, one type of cancer consistently stands out as more lethal than the rest.
Lung cancer is responsible for nearly 35,000 deaths in the UK annually, which accounts for 21 percent of all cancer-related fatalities. New and unprecedented research has confirmed that lung cancer causes the most years of life lost compared to any other cancer.
A recent research study conducted by King’s College London, supported by Cancer Research UK, has unveiled which types of cancer have the greatest impact in terms of years of life lost for patients. In total, it was estimated that cancer results in the loss of two million years of life each year, based on average life expectancy.
The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, revealed that among those two million years, lung cancer was responsible for the loss of 500,000 years. Bowel cancer followed with 214,000 years of life lost, and breast cancer accounted for 197,000 years.
Following breast cancer, there were 127,000 years of life lost due to pancreatic cancer and 114,000 years related to oesophageal cancer.
The study examined data from the period of 1988 to 1992 and compared the average annual years of life lost to the period from 2013 to 2017.
One of the study’s authors, Dr. Judith Offman from Queen Mary University of London, noted, “This analysis allows us to understand the impact of cancer on patients and their families, as well as the valuable time lost as a consequence.
Assessing years of life lost over a 30-year period provides a different perspective for evaluating the effectiveness of health policies and advancements in treatment, highlighting areas where further efforts are needed.”
“Research such as this is pivotal in aiding healthcare and political leaders to make informed decisions for the well-being of patients and their families.”
It’s estimated that approximately 80 percent of lung cancer cases are preventable, with 72 percent directly associated with smoking. Additionally, exposure to air pollution and hazardous substances like asbestos and silica can elevate the risk of developing the disease.
As for symptoms, in its early stages, lung cancer may not always exhibit noticeable signs, according to Cancer Research UK.
Nonetheless, symptoms of the disease may encompass the following:
- Developing a new cough or experiencing persistent coughing.
- Feeling breathless during activities that were once manageable.
- Coughing up phlegm (sputum) tinged with blood.
- Experiencing chest or shoulder pain.
- Suffering from recurring chest infections or an infection that doesn’t improve.
- A decrease in appetite.
- Persistent fatigue.
- Unexplained weight loss.
Additional, albeit less frequent, symptoms comprise finger clubbing, characterized by swollen fingers and nails, as well as joint pain and swelling. If you observe any of these indicators, it is advisable to consult your GP “without delay,” according to the charity.
Recent research has revealed that the UK loses around 500,000 years of life to this disease each year.
This research was reported by Fiona Callingham, a Health Reporter with expertise in medical studies, symptoms of diseases and conditions, real-life stories, and the latest public health issues.